Upper Deck Bringing Ohtani Autographs To The 39th National

One of my favorite activities to participate in while attending the National Sports Collectors Convention are the wrapper redemption programs.  I mainly focus on Upper Deck and Topps as they both seem to do the best work.  While attending the 2016 National in Atlantic City, I pulled a decent amount of valuable promos from both companies.

Upper Deck is the first manufacturer to give us a glimpse as to what their promos will look like for the National this year.  Have you heard of this guy named Shohei Ohtani?  Only a few people have been hunting for his cards 🙂  From the looks of it, he will have autographs randomly thrown into Upper Deck wrapper redemption packs.  Upper Deck seems to be bringing back the Prominent Cuts theme.  As we get closer to August, more details pertaining to VIP sets and wrapper redemption programs will become available.

I can imagine Topps will have Ohtani autographs too.  They’d be crazy not to have them.  Upper Deck has been using the Prominent Cuts name for National promos for awhile.  One of these years I’d like them to put that Fleer brand into use.  I believe Upper Deck stays away from creating special parallel promos for the National because Topps does that with their products.

The 39th National Sports Collectors Convention takes place 8/1-8/5 in Cleveland at the I-X Center.  Be sure to pickup an official t-shirt beforehand.  TRISTAR has already announced a hefty autograph lineup.

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Unboxing The 2018 Topps NOW Philadelphia Phillies Road To Opening Day Team Set

And now I’d like to show off the newest addition to my collection.  Take a look at my 2018 Topps NOW Philadelphia Phillies Road To Opening Day Team Set.  I think the Topps NOW cards get better looking every year.  Not only do they look good, but they feel nice too.  The cards are printed on thicker than normal stock.  Both the front and back have a clear coating as well.  Probably my favorite feature new for 2018 is the hologram backs.  All card backs have this Topps hologram printed on them.  It doesn’t stand out that much.  In fact, the only way you’ll see it is if you rotate the card just so the light hits it correctly.  Almost like how a basic refractor works.

According to Topps, (411) copies of this set were printed.  That’s a lot more than what I was expecting.  Some sets didn’t even crack (100).  The Phillies do have a lot of young talent, and those rookies most likely increased the demand.

I like these cards so much, I might go for the autographed version next year.  On a side note, after all of my tweets, Topps decided to make a Topps NOW card to commemorate the Phillie Phanatic’s 40th birthday.  Boomer and Swoop even made it in the picture.

How To Spot A Fake 1999 Upper Deck SP Signature Edition Dan Marino Autograph

Dan Marino is no stranger when it comes to counterfeit cards.  His 1984 Topps rookie has been heavily faked over the years.  So much in fact its not safe to purchase one raw.  You’re safer buying one that’s been graded and/or authenticated.  I’m not saying fakes don’t get by them, but it can drastically reduce the odds of owning one that isn’t real.

Rookies aren’t the only cards of his that get counterfeited.  Autographs from popular sets are also in danger.  Take for example this 1999 Upper Deck SP Signature Edition Autograph.  Cards from this set are highly sought after.  Especially big name players like Dan Marino.  Every 12-pack box featured an on-card autograph inside each pack.  Still a relatively new concept at the time.  This is also one of the earliest brands to introduce cut signatures.  Sealed boxes command major dollars today.  The asking price for a single sealed box is usually around $1,000.

Adding a Dan Marino autograph from this set to your collection is a great choice.  But you need to be extremely careful.  Over the last few years counterfeits have flooded the market.  When compared to authentic versions, the counterfeits usually have these characteristics:

  • Slightly smaller in size
  • Blurred lettering and logos
  • Completely glossy – authentic cards have a matte background, and just the player is glossy
  • Incorrect coloring

Another big giveaway is the autograph.  Of the counterfeits I’ve seen, the autograph looks nothing like the real thing.  There are lots of discrepancies.  Dan Marino almost always includes the #13 in his signature.  These forgers didn’t even do that.  Plus the pen they used looks to be much thicker.

For a detailed side-by-side comparison, check out this post over on the Blowout Cards Forums.

Fake

Authentic

Artist Jared Kelley Returns To Work On SAGE’s Sportkings

Since the announcement that SAGE will be producing the next incarnation of Sportkings, little information has been provided about it.  So far, the two Walter Payton promo cards found in 2018 SAGE Hit Premier Draft Low Series are what we have to go on.  Granted its only two cards, I do like what I see.  I’m a total sucker when it comes to artistic sets, and that is what Sportkings has always been.

On the reverse side of those Walter Payton promo cards, SAGE does list what we can expect:

  • Game Worn Cards
  • On-Card Autographs
  • Spectacular Patches
  • 1/1 Sketch Cards w/ Autographs
  • 1/1 Hand Painted Art Cards
  • Original 1933 Sportkings Cards

After some intense investigating, I’ve learned that artist Jared Kelley is working on some cards for the next edition of Sportkings.  Specifically the 1/1 Hand Painted Art Cards.  If that name sounds familiar, its because Mr. Kelley worked on various products when Dr. Brian Price had control of the Sportkings brand.  I’m glad to see that SAGE brought him back.  His artwork is amazing.  Every now and then one of his Hand Painted Art Cards pops up for sale.  Most remain in collector’s private stash.

When talking with Mr. Kelley, it sounds like SAGE could be looking at a summertime launch for Sportkings.  That’s not definite.  Although it would be great to see them release it during the National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland.

Here is a little taste of the 1/1 Hand Painted Art Cards that Mr. Kelley has been working on for SAGE’s Sportkings set.  No checklist quite yet, but we know Kevin Durant, Mickey Mantle, and Ty Cobb are in the mix.

 

SAGE To Give Sportkings A Try

Well… it looks as if SAGE is the latest company to wield the Sportkings name.  Prior to this it was Brian Gray of Leaf, and before that it was Dr. Brian Price who once operated In The Game.

I’m going to be dead honest.  SAGE has been one of those manufacturers that sorta flies under the radar.  The company has been around since the 90’s, but in recent years they’ve only released a few unlicensed college football products.  With Press Pass out of the picture, SAGE has typically been one of the earliest companies to release autographs of the upcoming NFL draft class.  Once Leaf comes out with Metal Draft Football, and Panini starts releasing their millions of products, SAGE cards usually move to the back burner in most collector’s brains.  It wouldn’t be until the following year that we’d hear from them again.

With the release of 2018 SAGE Hit Premier Draft Low Series, collector’s have been finding promo cards for the first Sportkings product under the SAGE name.  Both promos feature Chicago Bears legend Walter Payton.  You’ll find the artistic promo (1) per hobby box, whereas the Walter Payton jersey card falls (1) per hobby case.

According to SAGE, Sportkings sounds like its going to have a lot to look for such as relics, on-card autographs, patches, jumbo patches, on-card original sketch cards with autographs, hand painted art cards, cut signatures, and original Sportkings cards from 1933.

Sportkings artwork has always been enjoyable to look at.  Lots of rich color.  It doesn’t even bother me that they lack team names and logos.  It’ll be interesting to see what the finished product ends up looking like.

Jim Thome Topps NOW Autographs Beginning To Surface

When it comes to picking up new single cards for my collection, I can be quite picky.  Some collectors have bubble mailers arriving everyday.  That certainly isn’t me.  Former Phillies broadcaster, Harry Kalas, is the main person I collect but he has very few cards.  In fact, at the current time I believe I only need four more cards of his.

I’m a big fan of the Topps NOW program.  Once again, I’m picky about what cards I purchase, but I’ll jump on one when I really like it.  So far I’ve made two Topps NOW purchases this year.  The first is this Jim Thome 2018 National Baseball Hall Of Fame Electee Autograph #’ed 5/49.  I bought this card on 1/25/18 and it arrived on 3/3/18.  Not a bad wait time.  This is the first Topps NOW autographed card I’ve purchased.  These sold out so fast I didn’t think I had a chance at getting one.  Ever since Jim Thome played for the Phillies I’ve been a big fan.  He has a great signature too.  It almost takes up the entire width of the card.  If you weren’t able to buy one directly from Topps, I’m sure some will be hitting the secondary market shortly.

My second Topps NOW buy of 2018 is a Phillies Road To Opening Day Team Set.  Topps keeps track of who buys these sets, and if your team does something special you’ll receive an exclusive card.  This is something that Topps started last year.  I think it adds a fun element, and gives you something to watch for.

39th Ephrata Lions Club’s Sports Card Show To Feature Hall Of Fame Infielder Tony Perez

I haven’t attended the Ephrata Lions Club Sports Card Show since 2015.  Not because I couldn’t, but because their autograph guests were people I already had signatures from – Jim Palmer and Brooks Robinson.  Their next show is scheduled for March 24, 2018 and will feature Baseball Hall Of Famer Tony Perez.  I don’t have Perez on any of my bats, so I’ve put the show on my schedule.  If you’re in the area, I highly recommend checking it out.  Dealer tables usually take up a couple of basketball courts.  Lots of Phillies, Eagles, and Steelers items.  For more information, please check out their website.

This show has been around for 39 years.  Not many have been able to continue for that long.  I might even take some Sports Card Info pins to hand out.